I was visiting one of my favorite wine bulletin board, Wineberserkers, when I saw a thread about a restaurant in LA offering wine by carafe. That’s nothing that unusual, but what was unusual was that they were telling you the variety, vintage and region, but not the producer. Their concept was to remove some of the ‘picture clues’ that exist when you see a label and ‘think’ you know that you’ll be tasting based on the producer, etc.
This got me thinking about traveling through Europe a number of years ago, sitting in small villages in Italy or Southern France, and sitting down to dinner at smaller restaurants. When ordering wine, you were often given the choice of the ‘local’ wines by carafe – red, white and sometimes rose. You didn’t know the producer; you didn’t know the variety; you didn’t know the vintage. And heck, it didn’t matter – for the local wines usually paired well enough with the local cuisine that it didn’t matter!
So back to this thread. There were a number of posters who were taken aback by the concept and ‘didn’t trust’ that they would be given the right value with this method. They felt that the restaurant might ‘take advantage’ by offering them a lesser producer for a ‘premium price’. Now I will say that the carafe pricing was higher than what I would hope it would be, but I dug the concept, and I was somewhat saddened that wine folks couldn’t see ‘beyond the box’ and realize that this perhaps would help minimize some of the ‘stigma’ that exists within our industry about choosing the ‘right’ bottle all of the time.
I’d love to see this type of service in more restaurants, albeit at a reasonable price, that would allow consumers to ‘explore’ more and hopefully expand their knowledge of wine without having to worry about ‘labels’.
Curious to hear your thoughts on the concept . . .